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Why Obama decided to do NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno"

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WASHINGTON--President Obama sits down with Jay Leno on Thursday, while in California to sell his stimulus and budget plans and the path for long term economic growth. At the Tuesday briefing, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama is going on the late night show to talk about his economic plans.

While Obama will be doing two town halls in California--a state struggling with high unemployment and a state government funding crisis--Leno provides a "unique" audience, Gibbs said.

"We don't look at it as a process of demonstrating the president's sense of humor," Gibbs said, but rather a chance "to explain the economic situation we are in."

50 Comments

Obama has been doing public service announcements encouraging volunteerism in America. Maybe he is going to commend Leno for doing a free concert for unemployed workers in Michigan. I understand that everything from the tickets to the refreshments will be free.

"We don't look at it as a process of demonstrating the president's sense of humor," Gibbs said, but rather a chance "to explain the economic situation we are in."

Then why do it on the Tonight show? The Tonight Show with Jay Leno is a place for humorous entertainers to shamelessly plug their next project. It is most definitely NOT the place to have a serious discussion about the economic crisis. Can't the President just request time from the networks to address the American people and explain his position? Yes, he can. Too bad Robert Gibbs, President Obama, and the Democratic Congress are sacrificing their message to make personal attacks against Rush Limbaugh, Rick Santelli, and Dick Cheney.

I see what's going on here. The President's poll numbers are slipping. He needs a forum and a supportive crowd to give his slipping poll numbers a positive boost. I would be okay with that if the White House were being honest about it and said, "We want to be more positive with the American people and the Tonight Show gives us an opportunity to make everyone feel better about things."

I'd like to hear from NBC what they think the President's primary purpose for appearing on the Tonight Show will be.

This is my escape from serious issues in life, "Odrama" needs to stay off my TV at 10:30 at night.I enjoy watching Leno to wind down and do not need him pushing more national debt issues on this show. Go take your vacation already.

I will not watch your show on Thursday Jay. I love you dearly but I could not be a party to giving my tacit approval to a man whom is doing more damage to our country then any other single person since J. Carter, by watching your show.

Try 5 million Viewers , Leno is big on getting American Manufacturing on
the move again. As an independent Voter who favors a Harry Truman style
of Government I think it’s a good move!! As for the people you mentioned
Rush (I hope he fails) Limbaugh who preaches to the choir and Dick Cheney and Bush I have had enough, in fact more than enough. As for the
Democratic House, the Republicans had total control for Six long years and
what did we get?? A war we didn’t need in Iraq and blowing it I Afghanistan…. One H*** of a deal!!!

re: Sam S.

Sam,

I agree with you that the purpose of the Tonight Show is mainly a comedy variety show and a forum to plug the various products and ventures of the entertainer-guests (i.e. bands, movie stars, comedians); however over the past few years these shows have had political figures on, and those people have used the show as a forum for promoting themselves.

For instance, the esteemed governor of my state announced his major career change from bodybuilder/actor to politician on Leno's show 6 years ago.

The Tonight Show is a major forum seen by a majority of people, and is therefore an ideal media outlet for a politician today. Certainly much more so than a broadcast in prime time that preempts regularly scheduled programing encouraging people to see what's on cable.

It is with these considerations that I see the Obama appearance as the following: a chance to explain his plans in as plain a language as possible, and to do this in a somewhat informal setting. In a way, Obama is really coming straight to us with his message. He's going to a show that is watched by a lot of people and in an environment that should allow him to speak directly to the people.

Now if all that happens in another thing. Sure he is coming to the people by going on the show, but what he has to say and how it's said remains to be seen.

I think that it's a great idea for the President to talk to the American people where we relax and enjoy our entertainment. I also think that it's good to let the American people know that he's human and relaxes like the rest of us. It's also refreshing to have a President who no longer embarrasses us whenever he speaks in public. I'm behind our President all the way. To those who find fault in our President going on Leno, take a laxitive and turn your set to the O'RightWing Factor or Flush Linbaugh!

Im amazed at how Obama's being criticized for going on the Tonight Show and speaking to people who actually want to hear what he has to say. I didn't keep count, BUT, I beleive that this President has given more interviews in eight weeks than Pres. Bush gave in eight years. Plus, Obamas talking to people who enjoy Leno, and Bush generally spoke in front of military personnel who were FORCED TO STAND AT ATTENTION AND CHEER REGARDLESS OF THIER REAL FEELINGS!

Charisma does not make a good leader. Just because a person can "charm" others, doesn't mean he/she has others' best interest at heart. This just looks at another way to try to "charm" the average American out of his/her hard-earned money. The rich keep getting richer, the middle class shrinks and the true and just are being taken for everything they cannot keep from being stolen from them. It is sad to be oppressed in other countries; it is even sadder to oppress your own because you want to look like a hero to those who are enamored by this "so-called" generosity.

Comment,

Thank god President Obama doesnot have tunnel vision and the american public shoulds be receptive of the fact that the man has an agenda for everything he does. How many people in America look at the Jay Leno Show his ratings are at the top; being a 21st century president has enable him to reach for all forums: internet, radio, T.V. Facebook, My Space and any other forum to reach the american people. Believe it or not I have friends who never watch any news (unbelieveable)!President Obama knows not only the people but truly understands that a State of the Union message will not alone reach all the people. Americans need to understand the stimulus package and Jay has proven many of us just don't read.

I think this is great. When was the last time people talked about what was said on CNN, but a lot of people watch late night TV and use that as their only source of news. The Daily Show would have been too risky, Leno is conservative when compared to his counterparts. NBC is beaming about this because they realize their numbers have shifted for the worse. I was not an Obama supporter, but I am hopeful that our President will be able to rally all Americans, republican, democrat, independent and not political. We need something big and if coming on TV and easing the hysteria for some people.

To Sam S--NJ:
The purpose of Obama's appearance on the Tonight Show is straightforward. The Tonight Show is a show people actually watch; He's in town (or state) anyway. The Tonight Show is a place to discuss anything serious, just without the pressure cooker aspect of an Oval Office-type address (which is more for the sake of the people than for the President's comfort). And why should good positioning beget suspicion? It is good to allow communication opportunities to be planned. Perhaps more people will watch because of the somewhat unique setting for this interview; if so, success has come by the decision-makers.

I can see this as a chance for President Obama to get an audience that he won't get on his townhall meetings or press conferences.
He wants the everyday people to see his side of the policy, and what better way then on a show watched by millions.

President Obama earns my respect anew each day, this man came into office as the People's Champion, and is now governing as The People's President. What better way to reach out to the average joe then on Leno? I know some people our "outraged" by this insult to the presidency, but I just see a citizen who's been elected to the highiest office in the land, keeping in touch with his peers. I am so refreshed by this attitude in the White House.

Dear Mr. President, what a waste of time and energy you are proving to be. Where most presidents surround themselves with experts to help make the right decisions they can implement in confidence, you have found a way to surround yourself with self thinking hidden agenda-ist who force you to go on halfwitted entertainment show to "SELL" your crappy plan to us. I wish two things for you tonight. 1) Your unscripted appearance on the tonight show reveals the lack of confidence the american people have in this plan. and 2) You finally start acting like a President of the United State of America and figure out what your going to do about this mess instead of pretending you're a "B" list celebrity or being caught on camera in leisure activities.

Dear Mr. President, what a waste of time and energy you are proving to be. Where most presidents surround themselves with experts to help make the right decisions they can implement in confidence, you have found a way to surround yourself with self thinking hidden agenda-ist who force you to go on halfwitted entertainment show to "SELL" your crappy plan to us. I wish two things for you tonight. 1) Your unscripted appearance on the tonight show reveals the lack of confidence the american people have in this plan. and 2) You finally start acting like a President of the United State of America and figure out what your going to do about this mess instead of pretending you're a "B" list celebrity or being caught on camera in leisure activities.

I wonder if Jay Leno will bow and kiss Obama's ring?

He and his joke writers are still harping on jokes such as, McCain's age, attacking the Palins, yet he leaves Obama alone!

Now he says he will have a free concert for Detroit, as Obama says we should help out...sad that Leno had to be told by Obama, to do such a thing.

I can't wait to see him on "Survivor"!!!!!

I am sure other world leaders will be impressed with the United States.

I cant believe some of you people... I mean after Bush... There is absolutely no way you can go after Obama this early in his career as pres...

Its so funny that the people that are constantly putting him down are the same ones who (actually) hope this plan works so they can get or keep there jobs...

Obama.

Will not watch. Get someone else....

I hope he does better as a clown on Leno than as the joke he is as President. He is leading quite a circus with all his administration and the congresspersons who are so blatantly stupid. I feel sorry for those lawmakers who are trying to save this country and be honest while doing it. Honesty is truly a painful accomplishment in this group.

how much are all these plane trips costing he taxpayer. he can speak directly with us from the white house.

I will definitely watch Jay Leno to see Obama -- he's doing his best to clean up the crap that Bush created and left this country in such a mess -- JOBS are what this country needs -- think about it - there are no longer factories that make fabrics, clothing, etc. When did you last see a label in anything that said MADE IN THE U.S.A. -- for years I've told friends that the stock market numbers are no indication of the USA economy - unemployment figures are - and the people who have used up all their unemployment benefits are NOT counted - why not a number of "this is how many people have used up all their unemployment benefits this month" being published .... get ready people -- the depression IS here ....

It's become quite clear that Leno is doing everything he can to advance the socialist agenda of the libtards and Obama. He's having every loony libtard talking head on his show lately and asking them questions scripted to make them seem sane, when they and their policies are garbage. I always thought the marxist libtards would go hog wild if they got the chance, but they have completely gone over the top into insanity. If Obama fails, America succeeds. Any time Leno is on TV, is now dead air to me.

What else to you expect of someone who is more interested in being a celebrity than a civil servant. Obama wanted the glory and attention, he is hardly interested in the details of doing the job. So how does he push his agenda -- why by using his alleged charisma on a late night talks show and anyone has the never to question why this country is in the state it is in? It will be a great moment to those who drank the Koolaid. The rest of us will be watching Letterman.

I AM EXCITED ABOUT PRESIDENT OBAMA GOING ON JAY LENO SHOW CAN'T WAIT TO SEE HIM HE'S GREAT AND DOING A GREAT JOB THIS PRESIDENT CAN WALK AND TALK AT THE SAME TIME. THE SORE LOSERS ARE OUT TO GET HIM LET THEM TRY 66 MILLIONS WILL FIGHT WITH ALL THE WAY GO MR. PRESIDENT!

I appreciate a President who can take of his jacket, roll up his shirt sleeves and be prepared to work hard. Appearing on the Jay Leno only continues to prove that the Obama's have come to establish "CHANGE" in Washington. It also gives us the opportunity to experience "the Man" who just happens to be the President...and he does have a sense of humor too!

This whole left-wing vs right-wing animosity thing is getting pretty old. Suck it up, it's your country... collectively. Work together, or you're screwed.

I used to like Leno. No more. His sneaky way of promoting liberalism under the disguise of entertainment and humor started long before Obama, but this puts a big exclamation point on it. It is shameful.

Obama is trying too hard to be popular for the sake of popularity, rather than what is right for America, even if it's unpopular. He thinks that people will agree with him because he likes basketball, uses a blackberry, goes on Leno, etc. Yes, the uninformed will think he's cool, but the rest of us see that he doesn't have the credentials nor the advisors needed to do his job well, and he wants too badly to be "The One" to solve all our problems, all at once. Too many mistakes by him already.

I stopped watching both Letterman and Leno last year as the television media has predetermined who they wanted in the presidential election and even today censors information to be only pro-Obama.

I have watched Jay Leno for years but never again will I watch him. I don't care if Jay is a liberal or a conservative he should not have any president of the USA on his show. We are in troubled times, obama should be in Washington taking care of business instead of be on Jay Leno show selling liberalism and his nightmare spending bill. I do not watch nbc tv anyway so now I will just add nbc to my remote skip button.

I agree with Jack D. You have shown your true colors Jay. I won't watch Leno nor Letterman... Goodbye Latetalk TV!

I think it is good for President Obama to get out on as many media outlets as possible. I have friends who stay glued to Fox News and never watch other points of view. So if he get out on other forums people can actually hear what he is saying rather than what Faux News reports what he is saying. As you can see from some of the above comments there are a lot of Fox News viewers who also watch Jay Leno. I have friends who blame the whole economic crisis on Obama. It's unbelievable the spin that is out there on Fox and late night radio. Obama is trying to get beyond the right/left warfare and talk to all of the people.

So the POTUS goes on a late night talk show. Unscripted it won't be, Obama can't speak without a teleprompter.

I love the fact that Obama is so ever-present, open and transparent (even with it's political defninitions). The Jay Leno Show is an outstanding place to reach a large group of the American public while being human. How very refreshing. Obama will need/want to keep using different venues to get his word out. I'm thrilled...just wish I had TV and that NBC weren't blocking Youtube's video!

I want to say that I enjoyed President Obama and his plan to get us out of this mess we are in. There are to many white collar crooks in our finacial systim for the country to move ahead as our polictical for fathers would have wanted. They would have taken care of the problem themselves and we would not have to put up with them.
God bless the president and the USA,
I did NOT vote for President Obama, but I wish I had.
Don

JAY LENO,
I LOVE YOUR SHOWS AND ENJOYED PRESIDENT OBAMA MAKING AN APPEARANCE TONIGHT MADE IT EVEN BETTER. I WOULD LIKE TO THINK YOU FOR HAVING HIM ON YOUR SHOW. YOU ASKED SOME GREAT QUESTIONS REGARDING THE ECONOMY. HE ALSO GAVE ENCOURAGING ANSWERS. ONE CORRECTION I WOULD LIKE TO MAKE IS PRESIDENT OBAMA IS NOT THE ONLY PRESIDENT TO APPREAR ON A LATE NIGHT SHOW. PRESIDENT CLINTON APPEARED ON THE ARSENIO HALL SHOW IN THE MID NINETIES. HE PLAYED THE SAXOPHONE.
PATTY

Finally a real president who isn't afraid of being in front of the people; Bush hid out in Washington for eight years, that is of course when he wasn't on any of his dozens of vacations that were never diserved. What a waste he was....

Obama is going on the tonight show to try and bs the people more. He need to be hitting the books to study a little economics. He spent his life working on getting elected and doesn't appear to me he gave much thought about what to do after he gave away more money than anyone. He either didn't care that the stimulus would be a bill full of waste, pet projects, and abuses and would not stimulate the economy for years or he didn't read the book "what the still don't teach you at Harvard". I hope everyone is getting the message that most Lawyers may not have excelled in economics.

I am getting sick & tired of seeing and hearing Obama on TV every other day! Now, he's sending video messages to Iran? OMG! Is he nuts or is this his inexperience, unprofessionalism and naive attitudes FINALLY coming clear? This is WHY most of us over 55 didn't vote for him! We are not easily BS'd! Obama needs to stay in his office and do the job we are paying him to do!
P.S. Tax Day Tea Parties are being held all over the nation on April 15. Search on-line for your city's!

He has hurt many families in America. He needs to say he is sorry in the public, not to an organization.

In addition, someone who claims to have experienced prejudice and stereotypes throughout life, and has written about them in great detail, should be more sensitive and refined from life's lessons.

Furthermore, Obama claimed he was going to have the world think 'highly' of America again. Will this joke help?

For someone who spoke of equality as a creed. Does this joke match that philosophy?

For someone that said he would stand for all people. Does this stand up for those that participate in the Special Olympics?

The fact is Obama claimed a higher standard. To much is given, much is required.

Obama has just showed us that 'yes we can' destroy what a campaign stands for with a single joke.

During the campaign for the White House in 2008, the media criticized Palin for being ‘common,’ 'not-polished,' 'not-compassionate' and ‘not presidential.’ However, compare Sarah Palins attitude in this video created three weeks ago for the Special Olympics in Boise, Idaho.

You decide the more ‘presidential’ among them. Watch: http://tinyurl.com/ccz6nj

I was not a supporter of Mr.Obama for starters but hey man this guy is real. He hit the tarmac running and his Late Night Show appearance just shows that he is gutsy and not scared of anything. He is a modern President and that we all appreciate I hope. Gone is the old guard who don't even know how to handle a cell phone or PC,welcome to the new guard who can use technology to it's full advantage.
Just a pity we in South Africa can not watch Jay Leno anymore, some idiot has pulled the plug on us here. HE IS THE BEST TALK SHOW HOST EVER !!!

completely innapropriate to have a sitting president on a late night talk show. there was absolutely no upside to obama being on leno and his handlers, publicists etc. should all be fired for this misstep. seriously, they should be gone tomorrow...does anyone remember a guy named tom cruise??? randomly risky,screaming of poor judgment, mixed with a blend of egocentric, narcisstic bombast.....i am a huge obama supporter, made calls for him until ears hurt and this is infuriating....59 days in and he is letting himself get carried away with the hype and he is clearly not making sound decisions about the people he has making the sound decisions about crap like this!! DAMN Mr. President.....! give your head a shake and err on the side of pulling a dick cheney for awhile, spend some time in a bumker and remember what you were sent there to do....get back to fixing the economy...not talking about it with jay leno!!!!

Would somebody please tell this jug-eared jackass that HE IS NOT A CELEBRITY! Put on your helmet, ride your bike back to the White House, and get to work. President Urkel is just another example of why politics has been called "Hollywood for ugly people".

conan sucks, leno is the man

Well, I'll be honest. I did not vote for President Obama, nor do I regret it. I did not watch J. Leno nor do I watch it. Just hearing that he appeared on the show was unbelieveable. I am a mom and a grandmother, I take what happens to our country very seriously and just knowing our president is appearing on a late night show is just Dumb,don't have any other word to describe it. We are a great nation, led by men who took our country seriously, that's why our country is what it has always been, GREAT. We cannot afford to have a president who acts more like a movie star than a president run our nation. I wish the president success, I live here who wouldn't but it is time to act like a president and not a celebrity. As for the war in Iraq, first of all I praise Bush for fighting back with these terrorist. If it were your home and your family was attact, you would fight back to, we are a nation who does not let others take what we worked so hard for, so why criticise what we are doing in the middle East. Just like Obama made a terrible remark on the special olympics, those who criticise the war are making a terrible remark on those brave men and women who are out there trying to keep the terrorist away from your back yard while you sit and enjoy J. Leno.

I am so sick of all the judgement calls on a man who excepted the ill run political state of government the last eight years. I judge people of their character and believed that G Bush was a weak person who thought he should be president because of his father. I enjoyed the appearance on Jay Leno and Leno is my favorite late night host. I am over 65 and I voted for OBama! referring to the earlier email. Maybe McCain did defend our country and suffered being a prisoner but he did not impress me. I do not know why a lot of people are afraid of change. I do worry about the financial highway. But there are a lot of greedy crazy people no matter what time in history. there is just more of them now. Obama has a full plate and many of my friends do not like him. I hope that he can prove all of them wrong with their way of thinking. forget democrat or republican and work together!

I read in many of these comments that Obama is the man, well if Obama is the man why does he need J. Leno to explain his economic plans? Even being on Oprah would have been a little bit appropriate. Millions and Millions watch her show. Not that I agree if he came out on any talk show to discuss our nations plans. I understand that alot of people think he's this cool president and all but we need a wise president, a knowledgeable president, who will run our country for the sake of every american. He has an important JOB, not a celebrity spot. You have to admit, a lawyer-senator,with ? experience vs. a military man who was a pow and a senator for many years, hmmmm what would McCain have done? Oh and one more thing, I read that Obama was not the only president to appear on a late night show, Clinton also appeared, well like that made it better. Anyway, May God Bless AMERICA, we really do need it!!!!

Will you all please lighten up on President Obama! He is one of us and we all appreciate his efforts. You, the "Media", are never happy unless everyone plays it the way that you think they should. Stop being so negative. Perhaps something good will happen.

I think it was an awesome idea. Who watches press conferences anyway? ...not alot of people that complain, but Jleno is watched. It shows he's down to earth, and he is in charge, but still an American like everyone else. Peolple are just haters and are used to the old fashion, boring, White House conferences.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on March 17, 2009 2:02 PM.

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